Cleaning Seashells

January 16, 2011

My sea shells were beautiful till they dried, now they are dull. Is there anything to spray or do? Thanks.

By sandie



January 16, 20111 found this helpful

I too was dissapointed when mine dried out. I also was told to run them through the dishwasher to get all the germs and all off of them so I did. Don't do that, it also took some of the color out of the and weakened them.
I use my spray varnish, any brand would work whether it is satin or glass depending on the finish you want.

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January 18, 20111 found this helpful

Spray them with clear acrylic sealer. You can buy a can in any craft store or hardware store.

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January 19, 20111 found this helpful

I tinted pastel colors in clear nail polish and painted them. They were beautiful.

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January 19, 20111 found this helpful

You can also use clear nail polish. Works just like varnish. I use it on all my small projects. Use the attached brush but a small paintbrush works better.

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January 19, 20110 found this helpful

If you're just displaying them, not using them in a craft, try a little glycerin. Put a dab on your fingers and rub it all over the shells. Be sure they aren't left sitting on untreated wood.

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January 19, 20110 found this helpful

I have a book on Shells. It says to mix 1/2 lighter fluid and 1/2 baby oil. Polish the shells with the mixture and polish with a soft dry cloth. This protects the color. some shells are not shiney but this will preserve the color. Plastic sprays and finger nail polish will turn yello or brown after a time.

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January 19, 20110 found this helpful

Acrylic sealer in a spray will work. Make certain the shells are clean, and use several light coats of the spray allowing time to dry in between coats. And, of course, use a gloss finish spray.

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March 21, 20170 found this helpful

love nail polish remover it works on hermit crab shells too i have 4 hermit crabs and it really helps!!

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January 28, 20180 found this helpful

Will it wear out the color?

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3 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Most of my winter is spent at Marco Island, FL where I love to collect shells for crafts. Never do I collect live shells, however, once in awhile I've ended up with a couple that have a bit of their meat still in them, like the small conches.

Is there any way to clean these out? I've soaked them in bleach, soap, and hot water. There can still be a really strong smell. Any help would be appreciated.

By Darlene Johnson from Marco Island, FL


March 23, 20100 found this helpful

Put shells into a pot of water and cook them on the stove at a simmer. The meat will come out. Then scrub out what remains For the last step I'd try the bleach soak.

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March 24, 20100 found this helpful

We were always told to leave them outside and let the "critters" clean them. Takes a few weeks. Then "wash" them by soaking in a weak bleach solution.

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March 25, 20100 found this helpful

My grandparents live in Florida. We collect shells often. She puts a little bit of bleach or detergent in a bucket and leaves them outside for a few days to get rid of the stink. That will also kill the critter more than likely with the bleach water. Then we rinse them off and let sit to dry for a few extra days outside on a towel (old towel since it had bleach on it). Hope this helps.

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March 27, 20100 found this helpful

When we lived on Maui and collected shells on the beach we would just leave them out in the yard and let the ants clean them out.

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Several years ago I was given some large beautiful conch shells. To get them clean I put them in bleach water over night, now they have a white film on some areas. When wet they are shiny, it dries to dull. What can I use besides a spray sealer?

By EthansGram


February 12, 20140 found this helpful

You can try lemon juice and baking soda use a toothbrush n gently scrub the area it will foam up. It could be hard water or bleach build up stains. It's usually best not to bleach seashells they are like bone and are very easily eaten away and broken down by bleach. They are mostly made of calcium and will disintegrate in bleach which could also be what the white film is.

Once you have used the lemon juice and baking soda rinse well w water and let them dry. Usually if its a build up of some sort just the lemon juice and baking soda should foam it right off.( also works great on any hard water stains!)

Good luck!

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December 5, 2018

A visit to the coast is likely to include a search for shells. Taking photos of these lovely bits of nature can remind you of the adventure later. This is a page about finding seashells at the beach.

sand dollar lying on top of broken shells

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